JodiAnn Stevenson

One Billion Rising Events Around Michigan To Stand Up Against Violence

by Crystal A. Proxmire

Women around the world are taking a stand against violence Feb. 14 as part of One Billion Rising. OBR is part of V-Day, a movement that Eve Ensler began 15 years ago to end violence against women. Ensler is the creator of The Vagina Monologues. Women, and men, are fed up with the violence that is still a normalized part of society. As the OBR website points out, one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. The movement calls for people rise up, speak out, and even to dance in support of a safer world for women and girls.

In Michigan there are several events taking place, including ones in Flint, Warren and Bay City.

U of M - Flint

Jen Salamone, project coordinator of the LGBT Center/Women's Educational Center (WEC) at the University of Michigan-Flint, is planning the event that is taking place at the college.

"OBR is a movement to show the world that violence against women and girls is the central issue of our time and will no longer be tolerated," Salamone said. "We are involved because it is central to our departmental mission and we are committed to raising awareness about violence against women globally and demanding an end to violence against women and girls around the world."

WEC is a department at the University of Michigan-Flint that works to support women (students, faculty, and staff) as they fulfill their educational and career goals. WEC works to raise awareness about women's issues, monitors the status of women on campus and advocates for practices and policies that promote equal participation. WEC also advocates for individuals of all genders working together to challenge attitudes and social constructs that promote unequal treatment based on gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

Each OBR event is unique, and at U of M - Flint, Salamone and others will be initiating flash mobs throughout the day in various places on campus to bring attention to the cause of safety and equality. They are also hosting a presentation of The Vagina Monologues on March 20 in the KIVA on campus, which Salamone is directing. To sign up for Flash Mob updates, go to http://onebillionrising.org/page/event/detail/startarising/wrsf.

Detroit Rises - Warren

Deborah Garrett is the creative team leader behind Detroit Rises, a group that will have several events to show solidarity with the women's movement.

"I have been involved with V-Day, Turning Point, and serving survivors since 2005. It's a cause that is very near and dear to me. I think if you judged a species on how it treats its women and children, we'd be in trouble," Garrett said. She noted that it was event founder Eve Ensler and the V-Day organization that came to Michigan in 2012 to attract a crowd of over 5,000 people to the capitol after State Rep. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the House Floor after using the word "vagina" in a discussion about abortion legislation.

The day-long series of events takes place at The Recovery Room, 13330 E. 10 Mile Rd. in Warren. There will be a Karaoke pajama dance party, a disco dance party, a drum circle, spoken word artists and, lastly, two presentations of The Vagina Monologues. Suggested donations for each event is $10, with the money benefiting Turning Point Inc. in Macomb County and SASHA Center in Detroit. For more information visit http://www.detroitrises.org.

Delta Day of Dance - Bay City

The Delta Day of Dance will take place on the Campus of Delta College in Bay City. With a focus on dance as an uplifting and uniting act, there will be several events throughout the day, including a West African dance class, a hip hop class, a dance party, hustle-robics and student dance performances. They will also hold a wii dance tournament, and end the day with a retro prom.

"West African dance classes are rare in Michigan. We are offering one for free that day at 2 p.m., after the noon West African Dance performance," said JodiAnn Stevenson who is an organizer as well as an assistant English professor at the school. "I chose to spotlight West African Dance because I had the opportunity to try some while staying in Brooklyn for a few months several years ago and found it to be the most liberating, empowering, joyous dances I have ever tried. Liberation, empowerment and joy are what this rising is all about."

The events are supported financially by the Delta Global Awareness Program, the Black History Month Committee, several student run clubs and private community donors. Representatives from local area women's shelters will be on hand all day to keep the reason for the dancing front and center in everyone's minds. Donations to the shelters will be accepted. The event page for One Billion Rising Delta Day of Dance can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/396910020399579/?ref=22.

To search for other events, visit http://onebillionrising.org/ and enter your zip code.
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